To hear some tell it, we’ll soon reflect on the past several years and the near future as the final halcyon days of machines made to be driven. The feedback we receive from you, our readers and fellow gearheads, along with a growing mainstream global narrative, illustrates an increasingly pessimistic view of automotive inevitability: a world dominated by urban transportation pods, ride-sharing programs, and of course the darkest cloud looming above the enthusiast community—soulless autonomous cars that might drive us to our destinations perfectly well but with nary a hint of the passion that binds millions of like-minded members of the car community together. Opinions, even well-educated ones, are all over the map when it comes to predicting the arrival of this Orwellian existence, but thankfully there are still far more than a handful of new and future cars to put your mind at ease.
This year we begin our New and Future Cars feature with seven hyper performers because, well, #NOBORINGCARS. From here, over the next few weeks, we will introduce you to and update you on what we believe are the most interesting and significant vehicles on the near horizon. The best news of all: Drivers will need to keep their eyes on the road and their hands and feet on the controls of each and every one of them.
“The Senna is such a whirlwind of g forces, so Krakatoa-like in its speed and braking power, in only a lap or two it could easily reduce a NASA astronaut to a trembling, babbling impersonation of Linda Blair.” That’s what our Arthur St. Antoine said recently after driving the Senna for several laps around the U.K.’s Silverstone Circuit—and when you look at the hardware McLaren blessed the Senna with, you know he was pedaling a savagely devastating car and not peddling hyperbole. Do not mistake the Senna for an upgraded 720S: The cars share some basic hardware, but this is an entirely new automobile—the pinnacle of McLaren’s Ultimate Series range. Legal for street use and limited to 500 copies, the Senna uses the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 found in the 720S, but improvements bump output to 789 hp and 590 lb-ft. A slightly reworked seven-speed dual-clutch paddle shifter carries over. Top speed is 211 mph, but that’s not what this carbon-fiber McLaren, named for late three-time Formula 1 champ Ayrton Senna, is about. With its active aerodynamics, almost 1,800 pounds of downforce, and 2,900-pound curb weight, track-day lap records should be very afraid. After driving it, we know the F1 legend would be proud of his namesake. And if, somehow, it’s still not enough for you, McLaren plans to build 75 track-only Senna GTRs that will lap even quicker, priced at about $1.4 million each. Not interested in the Senna, whose looks might not be everyone’s cup of racing fuel? By year’s end we expect to see McLaren finally unveil the long-talked-about 243-mph hybrid-powered BP23 three-seater. Think of it as the modern follow-up to its legendary F1 supercar of the ’90s. It should land late this year.
On sale: Sold out (delivery late 2018)
Base price: $958,966
Sure, Ferrari and McLaren are famous race teams that also build some of the world’s best performance cars, but what enthusiast doesn’t want a car from a company still known mostly for building top-level dedicated racing chassis such as IndyCar’s present-day IR-18? That’s where Italian constructor Dallara comes in with its Stradale, the first road car to bear its name. This is a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis covered in carbon bodywork, and one available in a doorless configuration (among others)—you don’t want to add weight while adversely affecting aerodynamics, do you? No, you don’t. And speaking of aero, up to 1,800 pounds and change of downforce mean cornering forces can exceed 2 g, with the approximately 1,900-pound (dry weight) Stradale also boasting 395 hp and 369 lb-ft from its 2.3-liter Ford EcoBoost four-cylinder, channeled through either a six-speed manual or single-clutch automatic transmission; that should be good for 0-60 mph in the low 3-second range. The bad news: Dallara didn’t want to float the tens of millions it would have cost to certify the Stradale for sale in the U.S.
On sale: Now (not in U.S.)
Base price: $182,000 (est)
The past year or so has seen more than its share of new mid-engine hypercars, including Mercedes-AMG’s Project One and Aston Martin’s Valkyrie, and there are plenty more in the pipeline. From ex-Formula 1 driver and Le Mans winner David Brabham’s Brabham Automotive comes the carbon-fiber-bodied BT62, a track-day kraken inspired by his famous late father Jack’s third F1 championship, in 1966—the only F1 title won by a competitor while driving a car of his construction. The BT62 gets a six-speed sequential gearbox and a 5.4-liter naturally aspirated V-8 from another maker (Brabham hasn’t identified it), which Brabham pumps up to send 700 hp and 492 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. Handling should be off the leash thanks to Michelin slick tires, a dry weight of 2,143 pounds, and an alleged maximum downforce figure of more than 2,600 pounds. Brabham plans to build 70 examples for the 70th anniversary of Jack’s first race, with the initial 35 copies featuring liveries honoring the 35 Grand Prix wins achieved by Brabham race cars. Driver coaching is part of the buyer’s package—a good thing, too, since traction control is the BT62’s only “driver aid.” The car’s name is an extension of the BT60B designation given to Brabham’s final Grand Prix car, in 1992.
On sale: Now (delivery late 2018)
Base price: $1.4 million (est)
Add the name Fittipaldi to the others steeped in racing tradition that now seek to stick a Nomex-covered toe into the high-performance road-car arena. Two-time Formula 1 champion, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, and one-time IndyCar champion Emerson Fittipaldi has long dreamed of building a car bearing his name, and the EF7 he unveiled at the 2017 Geneva auto show is the result. Developed in conjunction with Pininfarina and racing-centric German engineering company HWA, which will build the cars, Fittipaldi Motors’ shark-styled track-day toy will be crafted to the tune of 39 examples, the number you get when totaling Emmo’s F1 and IndyCar wins and championships. No surprise, it features a carbon-fiber monocoque chassis and carbon body panels, with weight targeted to come in at less than 2,300 pounds. Power comes from a 4.8-liter naturally aspirated V-8 making 600 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, with a racy 9,000-rpm redline; 0-60 mph should happen in less than 3 seconds. Like a purpose-built race car, the six-speed sequential gearbox is a stressed part of the chassis. Similar to the Brabham BT62, buyers will get professional instruction—in this case from Fittipaldi himself. A street-legal version could be in the offing down the road once all track-spec cars are delivered.
On sale: Now
Base price: $1.5 million (est)
Hennessey Venom F5
Building off the success of the tremendously fast Venom GT that claimed the production car speed record five years ago (though Bugatti would quarrel with that), the forthcoming Venom F5 is the Texas performance peddler’s second hypercar. Compared to the Lotus-based Venom GT, the F5 is a ground-up, clean-sheet design with a bespoke chassis. A unique 8.0-liter twin-turbo V-8 spits out what Hennessey claims to be 1,600 hp and 1,300 lb-ft, managed by either a seven-speed single-clutch semi-automatic or six-speed manual transmission. For the very brave (or the very stupid), the F5 will reportedly top out at
On sale: 2019
Base price: $1.6 million (est)
You can be forgiven for thinking this is Ruf’s latest package for the Porsche 911 at first glance. Despite its very, very Porsche-esque silhouette, the SCR is the second car Ruf has built from the chassis up. As expected of Ruf, the SCR is incredibly high-tech, using a carbon-fiber monocoque and integrated rollcage adorned with a pushrod suspension and carbon-fiber body panels. It’s fast, too—a Ruf-designed 4.0-liter water-cooled flat-six sends 503 hp and 347 lb-ft to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission. All this power pushes just 2,755 pounds, allowing those with access to the autobahn to touch 199 mph.
On sale: 2019 (est)
Base price: $800,000 (est)
Pininfarina H2 Speed
With the traditional role of the coachbuilder and external design house all but disappearing in the face of in-house operations, legendary Italian studio and longtime Ferrari partner Pininfarina has been increasingly striking out on its own, most recently with a lean, green hypercar known as the H2. In place of a massive turbocharged V-8 or V-12, the H2 uses a set of four “race-spec” electric motors outputting a combined 643 hp at 13,000 rpm, fed by a 250-kWh hydrogen fuel cell system. Pininfarina says the H2 will hit 60 mph in 3.3 seconds and top out at 186 mph. Just 12 will be made, restricted to use at a few track days hosted by Pininfarina around the world
On sale: 2020 (est)
Base price: $1.5 million (est)